Friday, October 9, 2009

Boy's Own Adventure

This is an excellent article from the Sydney Morning Herald about the Astro Boy movie, featuring comments from both Freddie Highmore and Nicolas Cage.

Here's a snipet where Mr. Cage explains how movies like Astro Boy are important in this day and age.

"I try and keep it eclectic. I like to explore different characters in different genres but right now I feel there's a need to keep our children - and when I say our children I mean children all over the world - smiling. There's nothing more sacred."

The father of four-year-old son Kal-El, Cage says he wants to make movies parents can take their children to and enjoy.

"With the economy and different elements, families are tense, people are losing their jobs and I want to make movies that give something families look forward to, to share with their children,'' he says. "I feel like I'm doing something on the right side of the line."
You can read "Boy's own adventure" on the SMH website or by clicking the link below for an archived version right here.

Boy's own adventure

October 9, 2009

The pint-sized robot returns to thrill a new generation, writes Donna Walker-Mitchell.

At just 17, Freddie Highmore is accustomed to working with some of Hollywood's biggest names but the thought of providing the voice of Astro Boy left the young British star nervous.

"Extremely so," Highmore, who counts Johnny Depp as a good friend after working together on Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, tells Metro.

"I mean, Astro Boy is so loved in Japan. For those who haven't heard of him, this was our chance to bring Astro Boy to the world so the pressure was on."

For those unfamiliar with the pint-sized hero, Astro Boy tells the story of a robot created by scientist Doctor Tenma (voiced by Nicolas Cage) who is so bereft after losing his son, he tries to recreate his beloved boy in a mechanical form. However, Astro Boy can also fly, has super strength, X-ray vision and possesses unbelievable speed.

"He also has butt machine-guns, which although impressive, I'm not sure I could find that much use for in real life," Highmore laughs.

In the animated film, the talented young star voices Astro in an American accent, something he is getting used to after already playing Americans in films such as The Spiderwick Chronicles.

"I think they thought Astro should have an American accent because it just fits in with everyone else and that's what was best,'' he says. ''It wasn't too much of a problem to be honest, after having done it a few times. It's almost like riding a bike. You have a few wobbles at the start but then you get the hang of it."

Highmore did his voicework for the film in his hometown of London, while co-stars Cage and Kristen Bell (who plays Astro's friend Cora) did theirs in Los Angeles and New York.

"I loved being able to do the voice so close to home and it gave me more time to do my homework," Highmore says.

Although he wasn't familiar with Astro Boy beforehand, Highmore explains as soon as he read the script, he could see the similarities between the boy robot and another much-loved children's cartoon character, Pinocchio.

"That's who he reminded me of," Highmore says. "Pinocchio is a boy trapped inside a wooden body who wants to be accepted as a normal kid. The feelings Astro Boy shows for people aren't characteristics of a robot. He's just like a human but he's different because he's got so much more as well in terms of his powers. It really was fascinating to me so I immediately jumped on board."

Another star keen to bring the Japanese cartoon to life was Academy Award winner Cage. It's the second animated film he has starred in this year, also voicing the character of Speckles in Disney's G-Force.

"Listen, I'm fascinated with all kinds of filmmaking," the 45-year-old star says.

"I try and keep it eclectic. I like to explore different characters in different genres but right now I feel there's a need to keep our children - and when I say our children I mean children all over the world - smiling. There's nothing more sacred."

The father of four-year-old son Kal-El, Cage says he wants to make movies parents can take their children to and enjoy.

"With the economy and different elements, families are tense, people are losing their jobs and I

want to make movies that give something families look forward to, to share with their children,'' he says. ''I feel like I'm doing something on the right side of the line."

Inspiration for Cage comes courtesy of 'The Man of a Thousand Voices' comedian and voice actor Mel Blanc, who died in 1989.

"I'm a big fan of his," Cage says. "I grew up watching all the Looney Tunes characters. To think that one man did the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and more is marvellous.

''I like to channel that in some way. It's a chance for me to break new ground …"

While markedly different from his live-action work on films such as National Treasure, Leaving Las Vegas (for which he won the Oscar for best actor) and Adaptation, Cage says doing animation means he has to utilise other skills as an actor.

"The process is a bit different because you have to rely totally on your imagination,'' he says.

''There is no camera … and you don't really interact with other actors. You go into a little cubicle, which is like an aquarium with a microphone, and you just start riffing. You want to find some electricity, some spark."

Cage has one main goal when doing animation - to keep his younger audience members totally enthralled. "I just want to make kids laugh," he says.

"I want [the children] to have a great time and come away smiling."

ASTRO BOY

Director David Bowers Stars Nicolas Cage, Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane Rated PG. Out Thursday.
Boy it's been a long time

1952 The character Astro Boy is created by Osamu Tezuka as amanga (comics and print cartoons conforming to Japanese style). Tezukais known as the "god of manga".

1963 Astro Boy makes his TV debut in Japan. The original series begins January 1, 1963, with Birth of Astro Boy and ends December 31, 1966, with an episode called The Greatest Adventure on Earth. There were 193 episodes.

1983 Astro Boy is remade for TV, dubbed in English and incolour for the first time. It proves popular in Australia and 52episodes are produced.

1989 Japan's own Walt Disney, Osamu Tezuka dies in Osaka on February 9, aged 60.

1999 Sony Pictures purchases film rights to Astro Boy from Tezuka Productions, but doesn't release a movie.

2006 Hong Kong's Imagi Animation announces it will produce an all CGI-animated film of Astro Boy.

2008 David Bowers announced as director. The same year, D3 Publisher of America announces a video game based on the film.

October 2009 Astro Boy is released on the big screen with the world premiere on his home turf, Japan. The original series will be released on DVD.

1 comments:

drakeshe said...

I just saw the new movie at the cinemas! It was an awesome movie. Haven't seen a movie that good in ages. Topped the 'Surrogates', 'The Dark Knight', 'Transformers' and all other movies I've seen in a long time.

Absolutely great movie, awesome storyline, it's completely different to all the original cartoons, but none-the-less, great movie. The last 10 seconds of the movie though was compeltely random though lol.